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Christmas was a turkey for Electronics Boutique

Cut-throat competition blamed for stuffed figures

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Electronics Boutique saw sales slide 18 per cent over Christmas and today warned its final figures for the year would be hit by the slump. Despite a 13 per cent increase in unit sales, revenue fell four per cent for the period, the retailer said. Bearing in mind it increased its number of stores to 298 last year, this figure represented an 18 per cent reduction in like for like sales for the five week period. The company blamed its weak performance on continued price slashing on PlayStation software throughout December and into the New Year. "The exceptional price pressure caused by this discounting on the dominant PlayStation console format helped to create the dichotomy of a marketplace which saw an increase in the volume of games software sold, but with a reduction in overall value attained," the group said in its Christmas trading statement. "The overall decline in sales value caused by this unprecedented discounting will inevitably have an impact on the outcome for the year ending on 31 January." In November, the British Retail Consortium warned that stiff competition was pushing up sales at the expense of profits in the computer games war. Analysts were today forecasting a pre-tax profit of around £7 million for the company, according to an Electronics Boutique representative. This compares to the previous £13 million. Yesterday Dixons turned in almost £300 million pre-tax profit, but revealed a fall in gross margin - especially in games. Electronics Boutique's share price was down 3.6 pence to 31.2 pence today. ® Related stories: UK games sales to top £1billion in 1999

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